Pressley's upset another win for fresh Democratic voices

Ann Santiago
September 5, 2018

An African-American Boston city councilwoman ousted a 10-term congressman on Tuesday in a historic upset in the Democratic primary for a MA congressional seat.

Mr. Capuano conceded the race to Ms. Pressley on Tuesday night, though the Associated Press had yet to declare a victor in the race.

Before a crowd of supporters chanting "Change can't wait!" at a union hall in Dorchester, Pressley said her campaign had succeeded in doing something that "Massachusetts Democrats aren't supposed to do": Challenge an established - if also staunchly progressive - incumbent. The 44-year-old city councilor is a virtual lock to win the deeply liberal Boston-area district in an uncontested general election in November. Parallels between Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez were quickly observed as Pressley went up against a Democratic incumbent who was first elected into office in 1998. Fresh from her win, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "Vote her in next, Massachusetts", referring to Pressley.

"Everyone knows she gave me my roots to my wings", Pressley told the Herald.

Republicans didn't run a candidate in the heavily Republican Boston-based district, and Pressley is all but guaranteed to join the next Congress. "I voted for Pressley because she has and will challenge polices", she said.


As in Ocasio-Cortez's race, Pressley was a progressive woman of color challenging a white male lawmaker. Pressley backs Medicare-for-all, the single-payer healthcare proposal, which helped her garner backing from Our Revolution, the offshoot of Vermont Sen. But she made her background a major part of the race, highlighting the importance of boosting diversity in the Democratic Party, talking about her own experience with sexual assault, and regularly calling for more "bold, activist leadership".

The last time an incumbent Democratic House member lost a primary was in 2014, when Seth Moulton defeated former Rep. John Tierney, who brought significant personal baggage to the campaign.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker won his party's nomination for a second term, defeating Scott Lively, a conservative minister and staunch supporter of Trump who frequently called Baker - a frequent critic of the president - a RINO, or Republican in Name Only.

A piece in Boston.com profiling Pressley's race after Ocasio-Cortez's victory this summer noted the similarities between their two campaigns.

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